I have always dreamed of owning my own island. I mean, really, how awesome would it be to say you owned an island? It would be kind of like owning your own country. Not to mention you’d have free access to open beaches 24/7. Then there’s that whole adventure element. You know the book The Swiss Family Robinson? Um, who wouldn’t want to live like that?
And there’s also that whole people issue. My general rule of thumb is the fewer people around me, the better. On this island there would be people-free beaches, people-free jungle walks, people-free sunbathing… etc., etc., etc.
As you can see from my title, though, even if I ever get the money to buy this glorious island, I will never be able to live there. Nor will I ever be able to live in the woods, a cave, a lonely cabin, or a castle surrounded by a moat.
But I’m actually surprisingly ok with that, because, as usual, God’s way is better. He gives two very good, very convincing reasons for us to be deserted-island-and-alligator-moat-free.
Some of Jesus’s last words here on Earth were, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15). These “creatures” do not include turtles or sea gulls, obviously. It means people. God has a plan that we will be the ones telling everyone around us about what God has done for us and about His plan to save us. We have the joy of knowing that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16) and there is an innumerable number of people who have never even heard of that hope before. Do we really want to avoid opportunities to point it out to them?
Also important to notice is that this includes a warning against surrounding ourselves only with Christians. It’s sometimes tempting to only have Christian friends, to only go to church events, to only hire Christians to fix your plumbing, etc. If we never see people who don’t know God, how can we possibly fulfill Jesus’ final command?
2. We are part of the “Body of Christ”.
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” -1 Corinthians 12:12
God has designed people to need each other for lots of reasons, including being able to better serve God and to better walk with Him. Sorry to tell you, you won’t be able to figure it all out on your own…
The analogy the Bible gives, as you saw above, is that of a body. It describes the situation really well so let’s roll with that for a minute. If your foot decided one day that it was tired of city streets and snow-frozen toes, and realized instead its dream of sunbathing on some desert island, your walking abilities would really suffer. A foot really doesn’t seem all that important (I mean, how many times a day do you think about your foot?), yet without it, the body would be less than what it could be.
The same is true of you and the “body” of the church. It could limp along without any one of us if we decided to quit society forever, but God gave us each abilities and interests that we can add to the collective ability. That collectiveness can be used by God to reach others for Him, or to encourage each other to do the right thing, or any number of other things. With every cog that goes missing, the operation gets that much slower.
Also important to notice is that this suggests a lot about attending a church and actually working together with other Christians. If your foot was there and refused to do any real work, it wouldn’t be much more useful than if it was island-bound.
I know there (hopefully) aren’t many of us seriously considering running away to a deserted island or making our home in a cave in Antarctica, but sometimes we do miss the point of why we’re part of society at all: to reach others for God and to be a part of helping other people.
In other words, we can’t make selfish decisions like hiding away from humanity. We can’t choose to stay away from people just because we don’t like them. We can’t use shyness as an excuse not to do God’s will (trust me, using this excuse is incredibly easy and tempting…)
In other other words, our lives can’t have selfish motives. We have been called to higher things than that, and it is possible through Christ. 1 Corinthians 6 asks us, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” It then goes on to tell us, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.”
Our life is not our own. God asks us to give ourselves totally to Him, and He can do astounding things through our lives. Like I said earlier, God’s way is always better.
(Just a note: This doesn’t mean I can’t visit my island every once in a while. Which means this would be like the best Christmas present that ever was imagined ever… Just saying 🙂 It is time to start thinking about these things!)